Too much or not enough?
That is the constant limbo I find myself in, teetering in between being overbearing or underperforming. I know I am not alone in this feeling, in this fear of insufficiency vs domineering behavior. It makes me wonder, when I am battling within myself over this frustrating dichotomy, what is enough?
Enough: adequate, sufficient, abundant, ample, suitable.
What does it mean to be enough, then?
I find myself constantly scrutinizing myself by this invisible standard, kind of like an invisible line in the sand that I play a game of hot and cold with. I'm either just a little too cold, under the mark, or just over, reaching uncomfortable territory. How do I find security, the ground on which my feet are steady and I can breathe freely? How, in this world full of mixed signals and false smiles, can I know if I measure up? What does it even mean to measure up?
This past week was one of those where even the little things are a battle. I was exhausted, I had a to-do list longer than my attention span, and I only had enough in me to get through the day and then tumble into bed. I wasn't doing enough, and I was too tired, too self-concerned, too much. Such an odd combination, not enough and too much all at once. This led to some necessary self-reflection.
Why can't I be content?
What am I missing?
And all at once, clarity.
This fight I was fighting, this battle for worth and to be enough, was not out of my hands. Until that moment, I grieved the atmosphere our society has created with its double standards and conflicting messages and harmful promotions, which is completely valid and there is much to say on this, but at this moment, I stopped looking outside and turned in. It was then that I realized that this impossible standard in my head was just that; impossible, and of my own invention.
To a certain degree, everyone beats themselves down, everyone grapples with the concept of enough and what lies on either side of that fence. There are dangerous ideals perpetuated by our culture, and external pressure culminates because of this. But I see now that there is no textbook definition of "enough" that will determine whether I am living my life the right way or not. All I have to do is be.
I have to give myself permission to be too much, to be emotional or think about my needs and to not feel guilty or like everyone in the room hates me for it.
I have to give myself permission to be less, to not be super engaging if I don't feel like it, to not over-commit or to overachieve.
I have to give myself permission to be the wonderfully complex, messy, silly, smart, kind, helpful, introverted, busy, free, me-est me that I am.
And odds are, you need to grant yourself that permission too.
For some reason I tend to operate out of the mindset that someone else holds the keys for me, that there's something external that ensures that I am in check. But I have so much power within me, through myself and through my faith, that I need no external force to tell me how I measure up.
In writing this, I was struck by a line from Lewis Caroll's "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass":
“You're not the same as you were before," he said. You were much more... muchier... you've lost your muchness.”
Being "too much" is not a bad thing! It's usually just your perception of yourself tinged with insecurity, which should not change who you are.
My mission is to embrace my muchness, and through that to discover that I am, in fact, enough.